Sepsis – 6 Steps to Save a Life
A middle aged man sat in an A&E department with a fractured neck. He also had a fever, a high heart rate and was breathing much faster than usual.
Would you have thought he was suffering from sepsis? Luckily his doctors did, but they then failed to provide the critical treatment he needed.
He was discharged whilst still suffering with those symptoms and before the sepsis had been properly treated. He sadly died three days later and we are now dealing with a medical negligence claim on behalf of his estate.
What is Sepsis?
Sepsis causes around 44,000 deaths in the UK a year, more than breast and prostate cancer combined.
It is a life-threatening reaction to an infection when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive and begins to attack its own tissues and organs.
Prompt diagnosis and rapid action are critical in saving the lives of patients with sepsis.
Standardised checklists and flowcharts are available to help clinicians identify sepsis early and to provide the correct treatment.
Early symptoms to watch out for are:
Extreme shivering or muscle pain
Passing no urine (in a day)
“I feel like I might die” (patients often complain of this)
Skin being mottled or discoloured
The window to prevent serious harm is short. Once a patient is suspected to have sepsis they should be reviewed by an experienced clinician (i.e. a Consultant) immediately.
Treatment will then usually consist of tests and treatments known as the “Sepsis Six”. These should be initiated within an hour of diagnosis and normally involve:
- Giving antibiotics
- Giving fluids intravenously
- Giving oxygen
- Taking blood cultures – to identify the type of bacteria causing sepsis and the level of infection
- Taking a blood sample – to assess the severity of sepsis
- Monitoring your urine output – to assess the severity of sepsis and kidney function
Royal College of Nursing guidance states that observations should then be recorded every 30 minutes.
Complying with the Sepsis Six has been shown to reduce the relative risk of death by 46% and earlier recognition and treatment could save more than 14,000 lives a year.
Clinicians should be familiar with the guidance and should treat any signs of sepsis swiftly. Most sepsis claims involve doctors who have not picked up the signs, or who have not treated it properly or quickly enough.
We have expertise in dealing with these types of case and can help if you, or someone you know, had sepsis and believe you did not receive the correct treatment.
Enable Law is proud to support the work of UK Sepsis Trust. For more information see – http://sepsistrust.org/.